person giving leg massage

Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp is an uncontrollable twitch or painful spasm that results in an involuntary contraction of a muscle that does not relax.

Common types of cramp include:

  • Leg cramps (hamstrings)
  • Calf cramps
  • Foot cramps
  • Hand cramps
  • Muscles that are commonly used repetitively over a period of time are more prone to cramp.
  • Muscle cramps can also occur in other muscles.

Causes of Muscle Cramps

Exact cause of muscle cramps has not yet been successfully determined.

But are thought to be a number of possible causes which are the following:

  • Dehydration – caused by not drinking enough water, especially in hot conditions.
  • Low potassium or sodium (salt) levels – when we sweat we lose salts in which need to be replaced. Most people will usually take on enough salt in their diet for this not to be a factor, however if you are exercising in the heat for a couple of hours or more then an energy drink with electrolytes might be a good idea.
  • Low carbohydrate levels – affects the muscles, as it is the main energy source for our muscles.
  • Tight muscles – restricts the blood flow and nutrients which will affect the muscle to work efficiently.
  • Severe leg cramp – may cause damage to the muscle. And the fibers of the muscle may be torn due to the shear strength of the muscle contraction. Which will cause the muscle to be painful for some time afterwards.

It is essential to have sports massage treatment to restore the muscle to its original condition.

There are many different reasons why you could be getting muscle cramps. It could be most likely a combination of a number of factors including:

  • Electrolyte and minerals imbalance
  • Tight and inflexible muscles
  • Muscle injury
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Physical overexertion
  • Reduced blood supply
  • Excessive perspiration or sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Inadequate diet
  • Illness and/or medical disorders
  • Poor physical condition
  • Constrictive clothing or footwear
  • Being in a fixed position for too long
  • Vitamin deficiencies, Particularly a shortage of B1, B5, B6 and D
  • As we age or muscle naturally become less flexible
  • Some medications and alcohol

Muscle Cramp Prevention Strategies

You could prevent muscle cramps by:

  • Adequate nutrition -Right balance of electrolytes and nutrients
  • Regularly stretching
  • Warming up and cooling down before and after physical activity
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise
  • Make sure you are physically fit for the activity you are undertaking
  • Regular massage can help reduce muscle tension
  • Attention to safety and ergonomic factors
  • Stay cool during a heat wave, go and seek a cool location and refrain from strenuous activity outdoors during the hottest times of day.
  • Eat a banana because they are loaded with potassium, and can give the body enough potassium to counter what is lost during perspiration.
  • Stretching the legs and feet prior to, and after physical activity lengthens and bathes the muscles with oxygen-rich blood. This circulation enhancement method provides substantial fluids which can prevent cramping.
    Low in salt in your diet can cause cramp, however there is so much salt in processed foods in the western worlds diets that lack of salt is an unlikely.

If you are prone to easily experience muscle cramps during a bodywork session. A sport massage therapist can help its dissipation with the following methods:

  • Massage – Massaging the cramped muscle increases circulation in the tissue, providing a rush of new fluid to bathe and relax the tense muscle. Sport massage and myofascial release techniques are particularly effective.
  • Hot Pack Application – While not hot enough to cause perspiration, the radiance of a hot pack applied to a cramping muscle can enhance circulation. In addition to potentially alleviating the cramp, this technique is particularly soothing.
    Icepack – With severe cramp an icepack applied to the muscle for a few minutes may help the muscle to relax
    Medication – See your doctor if you experience regular muscle cramps over a period of time

Sports Massage and Cramp Muscles

Sport massage techniques will improve the condition of the muscles by helping tight or knotted areas relax.

A sport therapist can advise on stretching and strengthening to help prevent future bouts of cramp.

Massage is beneficial in relieving cramp by releasing the tension in the muscle and stimulating blood flow.

When the muscle cramp and it goes into spasm, the spasm squeezes the blood out of the muscle like a sponge preventing the muscle from getting its much-needed nutrients. And if the spasm is severe then there may be damage to the muscle (a muscle strain).

Massage must not be performed during the acute stage of this injury which is usually 48 hours after injury. This is because if there is still bleeding then heat and massage will increase bleeding, not stop it.

During your visit your condition will be assessed and steps taken to assist with your rehabilitation. After the session FREE muscle stretching sheets can be provided to assist with healing your injury. It is recommended that you continue these exercises at home to speed up the healing process. To book in for a session, please call Jade Tran on 0425 444 304. I hope you found the article helpful in further understanding your symptoms. Any opinions expressed within my articles/blog are from my personal perspective, not that of my Professional Associations / Educational Institutions
.Articles are intended to convey information only and should not being misconstrued as medical advice. If you have any concerns regard to medical matter, you need to consult a professional healthcare provider.

 I will not compensate you in any way what so ever should you happen to suffer death/injury/loss/inconvenience/damage due to the information contain in this article.